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South West Coast Path: Hayle to Teetotal St, St. Ives

7 miles or so easy going with plenty of places to get fat or drunk.

I arrived early for this walk and found free parking on Millpond Ave. There really is a millpond and it’s quitely beautiful, which is not something Hayle’s town planners seem to have overly concerned themselves about.

Before joining the coast path by Asda superstore, you’ll pass Philps, a bakers and, according to a taxi driver I spoke to on my last walk, the best pasty makers in Cornwall. I stopped to buy but, unfortunately, the trad ones weren’t ready yet. They offered their ‘breakfast’ pasty instead. A combination of sausage, bacon, eggs and beans in pastry didn’t appeal but, in the interests of research, I bought one. I’m embarrassed to say it was disgustingly delicious (and when on another day I tried their traditional one, that was too, although I reserve the 'best' title for a little hut outlet on St.Mawes quay).

Heading out of Hayle along Carnsew Road, I picked up the coast path sign and found myself alongside Carnsew Pool, which sits by the Hayle estuary and is a RSPB bird sanctuary. Pure white herons and Oyster Catchers were feeding. Cutting off the path along a small beach, I missed the point where the coast path turns back onto Carnsew Road and did the full circuit of the pool. I’d recommend you do the same. It’s a serene area.

Once back on the road, you have a long and unappealing walk (unless you like speeding cars and noise) and my advice is get back in your car and drive this section, turning right by The Old Quay House pub and then right again into Saltings Reach, a new housing development. There’s a car park at the end by the coast path.

Pick up The Saltings (a pleasant old country lane) by the car park and follow it until you reach a T junction. Turn left and then at the next T junction just a few feet away, right. In front is lovely Lelant church and by it (whoopee) the path leads off the lane at last. You’re now heading toward and then alongside the beautiful and wide beaches of the Hayle estuary and mouth, through sand dunes with a golf course and rail line to your left. A wooded cliff walk follows but it’s still easy going for Cornwall. And then Carbis Bay appears.

An upmarket beach resort, Carbis Bay has plenty of facilities but rather than scarring, they enhance the beach area. Hire a boat or board, have a posh meal at the beach view restaurant or do as I did and get yourself a cup of tea at the beach cafe, settle down at a picnic table and enjoy watching people enjoying themselves. It was a glorious day (August) and though the smallish (when compared to the giant ones either side) beach was busy it was not overcrowded. My first taste of Carbis Bay and I was impressed.

Now a confession. I walk only as far as Carbis Bay and then back again because my partner wanted to do the leg to St.Ives with me. I also didn’t fancy St. Ives on a hot day in August.

When we eventually completed the St. Ives leg, the weather was not so generous (hence the grey photos). Anyway, a short and pretty walk from Carbis Bay through woods brings you to Porthminster Beach. The tide was out so we took off along it and round a headland to St Ives proper.

Usually smothered (and I choose my words carefully) in tourists, I visit it rarely, but on this September day they’d mostly melted away in the drizzle and it could be seen for what it is, absolutely charming. St. Ives is a place to spend time and explore the beaches, the commercial art galleries—especially the serious ones in the backstreets—and the Tate Modern, the cafes and cosy ancient pubs, the headland with its small chapel and, of course, the lovely harbour. And there really is an austere granite built street called Teetotal St.

When you’ve sated yourself, head back to ’Porthminster beach. There, you’ll find St. Ives railway station. Get your ticket to Lelant Saltings, which (heyho) is either back where you parked your car at The Saltings or, if you walked the road from Hayle, (foolish you) an easy polluted stroll back to it.

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Location: Exeter, Devon.

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